German regulator orders Facebook to allow pseudonyms

By midian182 ยท 7 replies
Jul 29, 2015
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  1. A German data protection watchdog has told Facebook that it can't force people to use their real names. The Hamburg data protection authority, which is responsible for policing Facebook in Germany, said that the company could not unilaterally change accounts under pseudonyms to their users' real names, nor could it ask them for official ID or block them.

    The order came in response to a case where a woman complained to the Hamburg watchdog after Facebook blocked her account for using a pseudonym, requested a copy of her ID and unilaterally changed her username into her real name. The German data authority said the woman did not want to use her real name to avoid being contacted through it for business matters.

    Facebook said it was disappointed its name policy is being revisited after German courts had previously found it was compliant with the European Union laws. “The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they’re sharing and connecting with,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

    Facebook argued, as it has done in the past, that as its European headquarters are in Ireland it should only abide by Irish law in Europe and consequently has rejected the jurisdiction of other national authorities. A 2011 audit by an Irish privacy watchdog reportedly found that Facebook’s policy was in line with local laws.

    Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s data regulator, has refuted this claim that Facebook should only be subject to Irish data protection laws. "For that matter Facebook cannot again argue that only Irish Data Protection law would be applicable [...] anyone who stands on our pitch also has to play our game," he said.

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  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,166   +986

    There's a BnB booking site that attempts to verify the guest ID by accessing social media pages. We went thru a long bout explaining we had none and refused to provide driver's license, passport or other docs as that was an invitation to identity theft. The site just didn't get the issue and refused to accept that Twitter / Facebook pages were insufficient as personal ID.

    My guess was the site was owned / operated by millennials and take the social networks far too seriously. At any rate, we chose another BnB without this faux pas.

    My point is social networks are for fun, not identity verification.
  3. h4expo

    h4expo TS Enthusiast Posts: 46   +7

    Maybe we only really exist if we are cataloged in some online database?
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,166   +986

    :giggle: That was a fear day-1 of assigning SSN's to everyone. Orwell's 1984.
  5. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,310   +651

    You get FB to the point where you don't have to use real names, and it will turn into a WORSE version of
    America Online.
    jobeard and Hexic like this.
  6. Hexic

    Hexic TS Maniac Posts: 333   +164

    So a government is forcing Facebook, a non-governmental, publicly traded company to change their policy? Since when does any government have the right to tell an independent business how to run their show? When the service offered is 100% optional, it has no effect on anyone's personal well being, if that person doesn't choose to sign up.

    This is ludicrous. Cancel your Facebook account if you don't want to play by their rules.
    m4a4 and jobeard like this.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,166   +986

    IMO, already is :grin:
    Hexic likes this.
  8. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 955   +515

    Was about to say something like this. If she doesn't like the rules, then she can get her refund and leave (oh wait, it's free)
    Hexic likes this.

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